Tuesday, October 31, 2023

There and back again... A Japan Business Trip Story...

Just came back from another business trip to Tokyo. A red-eye flight on a Monday night out from Changi returning on a Friday night flight back from Haneda. That gave me the full 4 days from Tuesday to Friday in Tokyo.

A few observations I made during this trip:

1) Massive influx of foreigners working in frontline service roles.

2) Food is great and still very affordable, especially with the cheaper JPY

3) Shopping for clothes (e.g. UNIQLO, GAP etc), easily cheaper by 20-30% compared to Singapore

4) Never seen such a great number of European/American tour groups

Kobe Beef course meal for 9,800yen? Sure~

Love the place to bits but hotel has been a bit expensive the last week. Glad the company was paying because I will not be flying into Tokyo and staying there during the peak season. After 4 days of walking and eating I was pretty tired (more due to the overnight flight and shopping for the missus than the work...) and was ready to go home.  But it also invoked a thought in me. We might enjoy Tokyo for a long weekend more than a Phuket or Bangkok trip.

I probably can get away with short 4-day getaways like this in future flying into Tokyo on a Thursday night and returning on a Monday evening. A quick check on Google Flights and Booking.com revealed that a ticket on Zipair would cost S$574/pax (or S$1,148 for 2) and a hotel room at Sotetsu Fresa Inn Ueno-Okachimachi (incl breakfast) for 2 will cost S$466 for the 3 nights from 12th Jan 2024 to 15th Jan 2024.

That works out to S$1,614 for 4 days in Tokyo from Friday to Monday. How would you spend those 4 days? I would probably do the following:

Friday - Arrival, rent a car and drive over to Atami or Kawaguchiko for a night's stay at an onsen ryokan or maybe do a night of glamping at QOONEL+. (Note: that will increase the hotel cost since any accommodation at those tourist area will cost more than Tokyo's business hotels)

Saturday - Check out from Onsen ryokan or glamping site, spend half a day sightseeing before going back to Tokyo. Check-in and start roaming the streets of Tokyo.

Sunday - More shopping, more eating, one can take a walk at Asakusa and Tokyo Sky Tree or Meiji Jingu Shrine and Omote-sando. Find a nice cafe and chill the afternoon away.

Monday - Check-out, have a nice breakfast followed by shopping at Ueno Ameyoko before going to the airport.

Tuesday - Go back to the office with a refreshed mind and body!

I figured the entire trip will work out to slightly more than S$1k/pax excluding shopping. It's definitely a bit tiring on the overnight flight but for the quality of the food and climate I think its a big upgrade over any South East Asia destination. 

Would you do it?

Monday, October 16, 2023

Maximizing your dollars in retirement... Flights

Two of the biggest cost drivers in a Nomadic Retirement Lifestyle will be the air tickets and the accommodations. Previously I've mentioned that it will cost a couple around S$4.7k/mth to stay in Japan, and accommodations would have taken up 30-50% of that budget. 

On top of that there's the little problem of finding your way to the destination. A plane ticket can easily cost between $600-2,000 depending on the destination and period of booking. If you average out over 3 months that's going to add another $200-600/pax/mth. That makes it around S$2.500 to S$3,000 per pax/month to retire in Japan.

Google Flights

Apart from the normal airline sales, normally I will use 2 methods to find the best prices for my flights. One of them is Skyscanner and the other is Google Flights. My personal favourite now is Google Flights though.

Google Flight UI is plain and simple, just like vanilla~

There are 3 features on Google Flights which I like when I plan my trips:

Historical prices

The historical price alert lets you know whether the price for your selected dates are the norm for your destination. Now if you are a retiree you definitely have no reason to fight with families with a reason to go during the school holiday period. 

Sometimes it also depends on the destination country's vacation period so its really handy tool to have.

Price Graph

The Price Graph is probably the opposite of the Historical Price graph. It gives you a projection of the prices in the region of your target dates. From the printscreen above you can see its probably better to delay my trip to Jeju by a week.

Date/Price Grid

Most people will probably be more familiar with the Date/Price Grid deployed by Singapore Airline's website. It's similar yet different from the Price Graph, because the Price Graph is populated based on the number of days selected for the flight selection whereas the Date/Price Grid allows you to choose to shorten/extend your trip based on the best prices. 

Either way the Price Graph and the Date/Price Grid are great tools that has benefited me many times in the past.

So the next time you plan for a long term trip, try to maximize the savings by pairing the Price Grid/Graph with the destination’s lowest price point for accommodations to stretch your dollars!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Planning for a nomadic retirement lifestyle... in Japan

The big MONEY question.... how much do I need to retire if I were to lead a nomadic lifestyle with my spouse? Singapore is a terribly expensive place to live in, but if one were to think positively (no choice, right?) the money earned in Singapore has more purchasing powers in other countries. 

Take for example the Japanese Yen. When I first went to Japan 25 years ago the vending machines were selling drinks at 100yen. Well guess what? You can still find drinks at 100-120yen these days. With the exchange rate shifting from 60+yen to nearly 110yen per S$1, what used to cost me S$1.65 is now around $1.00. 


So with that in mind, I think it is a relatively safe to say that rental will not increase excessively in Japan if one is looking for a place for long-term nomadic stay, especially alternative cities like Okayama or Hakodate where they might provide some really good AirBnB options. The rising trend will be co-living spaces if one is looking for a balance of cost and social interactions.

Kurashiki is a great destination!

Like any city, peak season prices are exorbitant but if you book in advance one can still find reasonably priced AirBnB for around S$1,500-S$2,000. But do take note for some AirBnB listings, they do charge additional surcharges for utilities.

However, do not restrict oneself to just AirBnB options. Business hotels are relatively cheap depending on the location and season. For example, UNIZO INN Express Hakodate Ekimae near Hakodate Station in Hokkaido can go for just S$1,600-1,700/month. That's a fantastic location and includes housekeeping everyday. I would go for that if I don't cook!

Budget for Accommodation: $1,500 for 2 pax


If you intend to eat out every meal everyday, then I think a S$40/day is enough to eat pretty well in Japan. In fact I don't think I will spend that much considering I've been eating light for either breakfast or lunch these days to keep my weight down. 

I'll not be eating this everyday... maybe once a month!

One cannot budget for a long-term nomadic lifestyle like a tourist. You are not going to eat expensive delicacies like you would as a traveler. Well... at least not that often... 

Let's map out what a day will look like in terms of eating in Hakodate, Japan:


A typical day for me will be breakfast at Doutor. A German Hotdog and a cup of Royal Milk Tea? Sure~ 

But they have seasonal menus as well as some morning sets which goes for like ¥ 470~ I would say that's cheaper than Ya-kun or Toastbox these days... If you are not too big on breakfast then an Onigiri + Drink at the nearest convenience stall will only set you back like S$3.00.


A buffet meal at Gyukaku is between S$20-30… ridiculously low price when you compare to the price we pay in Singapore.

A sushi set meal goes from S$10-30. Ramen meal around $10-15. Many food courts serve meals costing no more than 1,000yen. 

Snacks and such

Starbucks latte goes for 400+yen. But there are many other coffee chains in Japan with decent coffee for that price. Need a snack? Take a walk at the supermarket to taste all the samples~ 

Budget for Food: S$40 x 30 = S$1,200/mth for 1pax


Depending on the lifestyle one is looking for, it can be as cheap as 0yen to 20,000yen if you are taking the shinkansen somewhere. When in Japan I would recommend using the subway and JR lines as much as possible on a daily basis, and if looking to explore a bit more, try to get those 1-day tourist pass so you can travel to as many places as possible in one day. 

Those 1-day passes usually cost 1,000-3,000yen and should be used when you feel adventurous and wishes to explore more on that day. But not all day passes makes sense to me. 

For example the JR Tokyo 1-day pass is 1,600yen. On average its around 200yen to get from point-to-point on the Yamanote line. It's 8 trips to cover your cost.

Coverage of JR Tokyo 1-day pass

However the Hakodate City Tram 1-day pass only cost 600yen whereas normal trips average around 210-260yen. You would have earned the price of the pass by just stopping at 2 tourist attractions before making your way back to your original stop. 

Best 1-day pass in my opinion~

Budget for Transport: S$5 x 30 = S$150/mth for 1pax


Depending on your usage, ReadyRoam on Singtel for 4Gb @ S$18/30days might be enough for some people but others might prefer the 20Gb @ US$26/30days from Airalo E-sim. Whichever the case, its very important to stay connected wherever we go.

Budget for Data: Approx S$40/mth for 1 mobile

Travel Insurance

A comprehensive annual travel insurance will cost around S$300-500/year. It’s going to be way more expensive on a per-trip basis. 

Assuming one will be away for 6 months for a year that’s going to be between $50-100/month. Mandatory to get this.

Budget for Insurance: Approx S$100/mth for a family


It's going to cost quite a bit to stay in Japan for a couple.

Accommodations: S$1,500

Food: S$2,400

Transport: S$300

Wifi/Internet: S$80

Travel Insurance: S$100

Misc: S$300

Total Budget for Japan: $4,680 for 2pax/mth

On top of the above, there's also the return air ticket, but that's for another blog post. Do leave a comment if you think I've missed out anything or the figures are too high/low~ 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Long-stay options in Singapore for Nomadic Retirement Lifestyle

Two of the greatest assets most people own in Singapore, an HDB or a condo, and a CPF account. If the plan is to retire before 65, then the property is one's best bet for a recurring income to finance the retirement lifestyle. A 4/5-room HDB flat can probably fetch a monthly rent of S$3,000-4,000 easily

But if I were to rent out that flat and lead my nomadic lifestyle abroad, I will have to sleep on the streets when I'm back in Singapore... or....

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Just read about this event called Co-live Fukuoka.


Its apparently an effort by Fukuoka City to invite Digital Nomads to visit and hopefully spread the word that Fukuoka is a viable destination for Digital Nomads. I like Fukuoka very much. I think Tokyo and Osaka are too crowded and if I were to find a long-stay destination in Japan, Fukuoka or Hokkaido would probably be my first choice. 

The program has a 1-month community fee at US$699. And the official accommodation at co-living space LYF Tenjin Fukuoka cost approx. US$1650 a month. That's already like US$2,349. Not to mention basic spending money. Including the air-ticket, the whole adventure will cost around US$3,000... I have to admit a co-living space or community hotel like LYF is a great way to meet more people, but honestly I think that an AirBnB would be a cheaper option. 

I look forward to seeing some Youtube or Blogs on this Colive Fukuoka event as it is definitely a viable destination in our Nomadic Retirement Life~

Monday, October 2, 2023

A Nomadic Retirement Life…

So what is a Nomadic Retirement Life (NRL)?

That means we will spend different periods of the year in different parts of the world, preferably where the climate is optimal for that period of the year. 

We can be in Tokyo from April for a few weeks, watching the sakuras and chasing it north until ending up in Hokkaido by June.

Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan in April

Lake Shikaribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan in June

As summer approaches we will return to Singapore for a couple of weeks before going to Melbourne or Sydney for Spring in the Southern Hemisphere to enjoy the cooler climate. 

Three Sisters, Sydney, Australia in June

Towards the end of the year we can choose to reside in Hiroshima, Fukuoka or Jeju to enjoy the cold, yet not freezing, winter~

Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima, Japan

Jeju, Korea

Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu, Japan

Staying an extended period of time away from Singapore allows us to immerse ourselves in the lifestyle of the locals, not having to rush for that next flight, or to repack our belongings into the luggage every other day. It is a lifestyle that is impossible while still running the corporate rat race with the limited vacation leave. Another benefit of extended long-stay overseas is the potential to stretch the Singapore dollar to its maximum cost-performance.

Of course such a lifestyle is going to cost a bit of money to finance. Not to mention all the logistics like booking accommodations and travel insurances. Apart from that there’s still the little problem of maintaining an address in Singapore and whatever health insurances to cater for the unforeseen.

Annual expense

  1. Health Insurance
  2. Housing
  3. Transportation
  4. Daily Living Expenses
Travel expense
  1. Travel Insurance
  2. Overseas flight ticket
  3. Local transportation
So as dreamy as NRL sounds, I believe its actually achievable with a bit of planning and discipline. We intend to work for another 10-12 years when the kids would (should...) be independent and we have paid up all (or most) of our mortgages. 

Welcome to my scrapbook for retiring "in" Singapore...

 Welcome to my humble abode on the internet space. It's been a long time since I've updated this blog...

As I reach my mid-40s, I start to thinking about life outside the corporate world more frequently. It's going to be tough retiring on just CPF monies and even more so when considering the rising cost of living in Singapore. But Singapore will always be our home and immigration has never crossed our minds, but we also enjoy the cool climate and countryside living in other countries. 

My wife and I have always thought of some form of nomadic retiring living whereby we spend a couple of months living in one city and then the next months in another city or country altogether. 

Such a lifestyle will require plenty of savings or recurring income that will last us till the day we kick that bucket. Apart from the living expenditure that we will inevitably incur during our time in Singapore, there are many considerations about living overseas for extended periods of time:

  • Travel Insurance
  • Air Tickets
  • Accommodations
  • Transport/Car Rental
  • Food

Another problem with reaching the mid-40s is the tendency to forget things easily. This blog will be the easiest place for me to pen down those thoughts. For example:

  1. Ways to finance the retirement lifestyle, whether through investments while working or sideline after retirement
  2. Best value for money way to achieve a nomadic retirement life
  3. Places to go for that nomadic lifestyle

And with that I shall start plotting my plans to retire "in" SG~